Chemical kinetics

Chemical kinetics

The rate of a chemical reaction is a measure of how the concentration or pressure of the involved substances changes with time. Analysis of reaction rates is important for several applications, such as in chemical engineering or in chemical equilibrium study.

Rates of reaction depends basically on:

Reactant concentrations, which usually make the reaction happen at a faster rate if raised through increased collisions per unit time,

Surface area available for contact between the reactants, in particular solid ones in heterogeneous systems. Larger surface area leads to higher reaction rates.

Pressure, by increasing the pressure, you decrease the volume between molecules. This will increase the frequency of collisions of molecules.

Activation energy, which is defined as the amount of energy required to make the reaction start and carry on spontaneously. Higher activation energy implies that the reactants need more energy to start than a reaction with a lower activation energy.

Temperature, which hastens reactions if raised, since higher temperature increases the energy of the molecules, creating more collisions per unit time,

The presence or absence of a catalyst. Catalysts are substances which change the pathway (mechanism) of a reaction which in turn increases the speed of a reaction by lowering the activation energy needed for the reaction to take place. A catalyst is not destroyed or changed during a reaction, so it can be used again.

For some reactions, the presence of electromagnetic radiation, most notably ultraviolet, is needed to promote the breaking of bonds to start the reaction. This is particularly true for reactions involving radicals.

Reaction rates are related to the concentrations of substances involved in reactions, as quantified by the rate law of each reaction. Note that some reactions have rates that are independent of reactant concentrations. These are called zero order reactions.


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